The province has found a “probable” case of vaping-related illness in B.C., health officials said Wednesday.
The news comes after a Sept. 19 notice that required doctors to report cases that meet the “national case definition” of vaping disease.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said although this is the first case of probably vaping disease in the province, they “fully expect there will be more as this is quickly emerging as a significant public health issue.”
The province said there are other investigations into suspected vaping disease underway.
“Vaping is turning back the clock on decades of effective anti-smoking efforts and creating a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine,” Henry said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said current regulations were “insufficient,” and that a plan would be issued in the coming weeks.
B.C.’s first case of vaping-related illness comes as more than 1,000 people in the U.S., and some in Canada, have development lung issues seemingly linked to vaping.
In September, Ontario health official identified multiple cases of vaping-related illness in the province and Health Canada issued a warning to people using vaping products to watch for symptoms of pulmonary illness.
A University of B.C. professor said it’s “not surprising” that vaping-related illness is on the rise.
“It’s been growing very rapidly among school kids but it’s also also growing very rapidly among the 19-25 age group,” said Okanagan campus psychology professor Marvin Krank.
“It’s been an absolutely unregulated and absolutely misleading advertising campaign,” Krank noted.
He said marketing of vaping products has focused on them being a safe way to get nicotine and “pretending they were going to get people to quit and then marketing to youth.”
Krank said data shows vaping is the preferred way for teens to get their nicotine.
“They really believe this is safe and they believe they can do in anywhere,” he said.
Krank is concerned that the longterm effects of vaping have yet to be studied. He points to cigarettes, where it took decades for them to be seen as harmful.
“Just because we haven’t monitored vaping for 10 years doesn’t mean it’s going to be safe in 10 years,” Krank said.
He also points to how vaping is often done inside, or near others, where cigarette smokers are pushed away from people over worries of second-hand smoke.
“There is second-hand smoke involved… but it hasn’t been studied,” Krank said.
In B.C., two men are seeking to open a class-action lawsuit against e-cigarette giant Juul and Krank said it’s likely the first of many against e-cigarette manufacturers.
“I think it certainly will happen because the template is already there,” he said, citing lawsuits against major tobacco manufacturers.
The province has not provided information as to what e-cigarette, or vape, the B.C. patient with vaping-related illness was using.